The young guns are firing, race style from Orange Dirt’s Jacob Dickson.
The first race of the season on the UK scene files riders into line and gives a decent measure of where they lie with fellow countryman. It might just be one race but the feet on those 5 steps are a good guide to who is up there two weeks ahead of the World Cup season. The BDS at Antur Stiniog this weekend thrust the younger riders into the limelight and gave, from a UK perspective at least, an idea of where we are at. The Juniors stamped their mark and racers like Bryceland pushed ahead of their mentors to land solid results.
All Photos: Ben Winder
The track from BDS #1 winding down the hill.
Arriving at Antur Stiniog I had reservations about a UK national being held at a bike park. The potential for surfaced trails and the spread of negative feeling from the World Cup scene could easily have been translated to the UK.
Having walked the track and seen some of the lines it was pretty gnarly, fears subsided and the surfaced sections of Welsh slate were broken up by slippery slab corners, hefty drops and awkward turns, this track was deserving of a national level race. Peaty and Bryceland commented on the fact that the majority of right hand corners were flatter and loose with the left handers being better and easier to hit at speed but either way the turns were there are lines were numerous.
I came down in practice and each run kept seeing lines out of the corner of my eye and thinking, should I be over there or is this the fastest line? – Steve Peat
Water played a part this weekend, as riders spread dirt from the upper sections down the track some corners became treacherous and claimed victims. It wasn’t that rain fell but the ground was saturated and as hundreds of tyres took to the surface the damp mud greased some sections.
Peaty is downhill through and through, great to see him at the BDS.
The UK has a solid representation on the global race scene, both the men’s and women’s categories were stacked with World Cup podium regulars. So how did they all go?
DOWN TO BUSINESS
Times were tight at the top, the Elite men’s podium were divided by just 2.809s with only 5.244s separating the top 10 ten riders. Danny Hart took the win 1.554s ahead of Ratboy Bryceland who was looking pinned all weekend. Third step went to Matt Simmonds, new team, new trainer and a new focus for 2014 means he is hungry to climb the podium at World Cups and national races alike. A 5th at Worlds last year could mean a solid start for the Saracen rider at PMB. A little bit of a dark horse on the World Cup scene but well seasoned in UK racing Ruaridh Cunningham took 4th and Slugger Beaumont rounded out the podium after seeding 6th.
‘Bazza’ pinned coming into the bottom section.
Our man Harry ‘Bazza’ Heath looked fast all weekend, with a new bike under him he’s got some competitive pace. 4th in qualifying and 9th overall is a solid start for the season. Something special is in the pipeline from Orange for PMB so keep an eye out on the webber for that.
Gee was looking as quick as ever but it wasn’t to be on Sunday.
Notable by their podium absence, Gee Atherton and Steve Peat had both been looking fast all weekend but it didn’t come together in their race runs. Gee tweeted after the race:
Good to be racing again today but not a great result! Crashed in quali then just couldn’t get into the feel of the course. no drama tho. – @gee_atherton
Peaty seemed happy with the race although I’m sure he would have preferred to be on the podium.
Some tight times today!!! Great track and race!! Cheers everyone!! – @StevePeat
Atherton, on point and on the podium.
In the Elite Women Rachel Atherton took her dominant form from last season’s World Cup into the first national taking the win from Manon who was 2.980s back on her time. After Manon the times spread out, Tahnee Seagrave takes the step up to Elite this year and she took 3rd at Antur Stiniog 11.27s back on Manon. Ffion Griffiths was up there and took fourth with Jess Stone of Trek Coventry’s Team rounding out the Women’s podium.
Greenland, pinned and deserving of his first Junior win.
The Juniors were fast all weekend, Laurie Greenland of Trek World Racing took the win in his first Junior race with Reece Wilson 3.269s back taking the second step of the podium. Laurie’s time would have put him in 11th in Elite Men so the young boys are coming up the ranks fast. Innes Graham took 3rd ahead of FMD Racing’s Neil Stewart in 4th and GT Factory Racing rider Taylor Vernon in 5th. Great to see Tay back on the bike after his horrendous back injury, he’s had a hard road to recovery but he is definitely back mixing it up with the top juniors for 2014.
The World Cup is just round the corner but the commitment and proffesionalism shown by riders at the British series is something to be admired. When riders see the likes of Laurie Greenland and Danny Hart last onto the podium they have got to be inspired, the UK’s talent pool is deep and the BDS is helping it grow.
Get yourself out there, dig some tracks and get practicing, downhill is calling and you lot are up next.
Here are the results from Elite Men, Women and the Juniors, full results can be found here.